Dunn For From the Start PDF Print E-mail
Oldham Athletic
Written by Mark W   
Monday, 18 January 2016 23:40

When Oldham Athletic’s Board sacked Darren Kelly after a handful of games in September it was imperative that they made the right decision when replacing him. The failure to appoint a manager following Lee Johnson’s departure in February had led to a season of great promise petering out and the Kelly appointment had been farcical (as I wrote about when he left the club HERE).


The start to the season under Kelly had not been all we would have wanted but whilst it was difficult to see a promotion challenge on the horizon, we’d picked up seven points in as many games so there was a base for the new manager to build upon.



There had been rumours for weeks that David Dunn had been brought in as a manager in waiting so it was no surprise when he was put in interim charge. Unfortunately the rumours did him no favours with talk that he had been an unsettling influence in the dressing room. Whether there was anything in this, I have no idea but the fact that it was even being suggested meant that he would have much to do to win over some of the fan base. The Board should never have put him in that position. If he was brought in to replace Kelly, it should have been done immediately.


The ‘interim’ tag was a strange one. Everyone presumed he was here for the long run yet Corney and his fellow directors effectively put him on trial. When he was given the job a few weeks later, it was difficult to see what had changed. We’d not won a game in that period so why were they now certain he was the man to take us forward?


I felt sorry for Dunn at the time as he was being set up to fail. It was always going to be difficult to come in when he did as the Board had created a culture whereby it was seen as appropriate to question a manager after a month in charge. When a club is being well run and managers are being backed by the Board, the fans are much more willing to give them time because they understand that there is a medium to long term strategy and that the manager has to be given every opportunity to succeed. When the last manager was given seven games, it is logical that many people would turn round a couple of months into the new man’s tenure and say “Kelly was sacked for doing better than this”. It’s not right, but it is understandable.


I don’t think Dunn helped himself, though, his criticism of the players and the fans did little to win the doubters over and at times his attitude grated with me. He came across, rightly or wrongly, as arrogant. The impression was that we were little Oldham and we should be grateful to have him as our manager. There are many people who could tell us that, but when it was coming from the man himself (not in so many words, but that was how it felt) it was not edifying.


The “sarcastic chanting” complaint was the one where I suspected he wouldn’t last long. I actually understand the point he was making and I know there are quite a lot of people who think he was perfectly entitled to make it but for me it was out of order. The chants happened at Chesterfield when we were a goal down and hadn’t scored a goal for over three and a half games. The week before we had drawn against a side in a division below us and hadn’t even looked like scoring . When we had a wayward shot from distance it didn’t surprise me to see a section of the away end celebrate like we’d just won the league. Ironically it seemed to galvanize the players as we suddenly stepped up and eventually won the game. Dunn’s comments sounded like someone who doesn’t understand what supporting a club like ours is all about. The chants are a self defence mechanism. We were looking shit and some of the fans took the piss out of ourselves before the opposition fans got the chance to do so. That’s how it works. They were trying to have some fun at a time when there was nothing happening on the pitch to entertain them.


The failure to win at Boundary Park was ultimately what cost David his job. We actually had a good away record with the wins at Chesterfield and Swindon along with the three all draw at Gillingham being the stand out moments. The problem is that it we are going to stay up it is going to be based upon our record at Boundary Park and our home performances were, on the whole, shocking. It won’t be lost on the departed boss that arguably the best 45 minute home performance of his reign was the last 45 minutes of his reign.


I think that sometimes, it can be easy to forget that the majority of fans only ever attend home games and so whilst away performances and results are important, they don’t mean that much to many of the fans. Those who turn up once a fortnight expect to be entertained and sadly under David Dunn they weren’t.


A number of the players badly let their manager down but it appeared that he didn’t know how to deal with those who were not giving their all. Regular criticism of unnamed players was meaningless when he kept picking them. His comments about Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho not being able to manage this team were very bizarre. Either he was claiming to be a better manager than those two giants of the game or he was admitting that there was nothing that he could do. Either way, he was effectively tendering his resignation.


In the end it was inevitable that he was going to go, particularly when it became clear that he was not going to be backed in the transfer window. The fact that he lost his man to Shrewsbury when wanted to bring in Wellens and Wellens wanted to come told us everything we needed to know. The 23 day loan for the pair from Burnley also stank of a short term solution whilst the Board decided what to do about their manager.


David Dunn made a lot of mistakes in his short time at the club but I suspect the biggest mistake was agreeing to take the job under exceptionally difficult circumstances without ensuring he had the full support of those running the club.


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Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2016 12:39